Just because her university athletics career has come to an end doesn’t mean Shealyn McLaughlin can’t keep challenging herself.
The UWindsor grad (BHK 2013), who won two medals in throw events at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships in March, is finding success in Highland Games competition.
She set a record Sunday at the Highlands of Durham Games in Uxbridge, heaving a 9.3 lb. stone a distance of 39 feet. When she completed all the events—including a caber toss, weight throw, sheaf toss, and stone throw for height as well as distance—she finished third overall.
McLaughlin first got involved through her Lancer coach Mike Miller, a doctoral student who has turned pro as a Scottish strongman after winning the amateur championship last year.
“I have been having a lot of fun,” says McLaughlin. “I definitely want to keep up with it.”
Although some of the events bear similarities to the university events of shot put and weight throw, she acknowledges there are differences, especially the pageantry. Being of Irish heritage herself, McLaughlin competes in a plaid kilt of All Ireland Green.
“So many people come out to watch,” she says. “It makes it a different experience; it’s absolutely fantastic.”
The rules may vary a bit from place to place, and because the throws use natural fieldstones, the competitors don’t even have identical equipment.
“It’s not as strict as varsity sports, which is part of what makes it interesting,” McLaughlin says. That laxity is sometimes inconvenient; a record toss she made at an earlier event was disqualified when her stone weighed in below the standard.
The competitions also mesh well with McLaughlin’s career aspirations—she will begin a graduate certificate program in exercise science for health and performance at Niagara College this fall.